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Moving to the Middle East – what to look for in a remuneration package
19 July 2018

Moving to the Middle East – what to look for in a remuneration package


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You’ve been offered a job in the Middle East – congratulations! But before you can accept it, you’ll need to agree remuneration with your prospective new employer.

These days, remuneration is always more than just basic salary. Many employers, wherever they’re based, will offer other benefits such as pension, private healthcare and bonuses. So you’ll already have experience of looking beyond the headline figure. However, when your new job is in a whole other country, the package in its entirety becomes even more important – especially if you’re taking your family with you.

There’s a lot to think about when negotiating your package as a soon-to-be expat. Read our short guide for a few top tips.

Knowledge is power

If you’re looking to move abroad, it’s essential that you do as much research as possible into living costs in that country before you even think about negotiating your remuneration.

Don’t be swayed by an attractive basic salary figure and a low-tax or tax-free regime – housing, education, healthcare and food shopping may all start eating into your monthly take-home, potentially leaving you worse off than you thought.

Read blogs, speak to other expats, talk to your recruiter – start negotiations with a clear idea of what you need to achieve the standard of living that you’re seeking.

What to look for in a remuneration package

Remuneration packages will differ between companies and countries, but some of the key elements to look out for include:

  • Housing – in many parts of the Middle East, housing costs are extremely high and increasing rapidly. At the same time, many employers are reducing or withdrawing employee housing allowances. Always make sure that you factor housing costs into your salary calculations and, if you’re lucky enough to find an employer who will pay for your accommodation, expect a lower salary in return.

  • Education – international schooling can be very expensive. If school costs aren’t included in your relocation package, they’ll take a significant chuck of your salary. Some employers will contribute towards school fees, but few will meet the whole cost.

  • Healthcare - though many UK employers offer private medical insurance, it’s very much seen as a ‘perk’. In the Middle East, however, it’s essential (and even compulsory in some countries). Medical treatment can be very expensive so make sure that your employment package includes comprehensive medical insurance for your whole family.

  • Visas and permits – as an expat in the Middle East, you’ll need work and residency permits for you and your family. Generally, your employer will cover the fees, but double-check this is the case when negotiating your package.

  • Travel – your employer will usually cover the cost of a flight to and from your home country, and if you’re staying for an extended period, many will pay for one return ticket for the whole family per year. It’s worth asking whether additional paid holiday is also available to accommodate the time flying.

  • Car rental – it isn’t always easy to buy or rent a car as a foreigner. Some countries will require you to have a local social security number to register the car or buy insurance, and that can take some time. If you’ll need a car straightaway, ask your employer if they’ll pay for a rental car for you.

  • Exchange rate protection – if you’re going to be paid in a different currency from the one in which you’re living, ask your employer if they provide exchange rate protection in the event that you’re adversely affected by currency fluctuations.

  • Moving expenses – packing and shipping your belongings to a new country can be expensive. Some employers will cover the cost of this, but many won’t so you need to factor this in to your salary calculations and any signing-on bonus you may be offered.